Aviator with dagger

It is a fact that early Prussian aviators carried daggers, which has been testified by a witness -

Prussian observer with early Aviator dagger
Prussian observer with early Aviator dagger. vd

He is a witness who can no longer give us his words, as nearly 100 years have passed, but his experiences certainly appear utterly remarkable. He undertook something that helps us today to understand these daggers.

This witness was an observer, a Flying Officer, who risked his life with his pilot despite rain, snow or heat in a tight-fitting open aircraft during the Great War, in order to give reports about ground movement of the enemy. He showed a soldier´s courage, which he both admired and respected in his counterpart.

It was not without reason that they were dubbed `knights of the air” in WW I. This officer received an Honour, the Iron Cross. In order to keep this very noteworthy moment alive, and per-haps as a keepsake for his family, friends and comrades, he would surely (perhaps the same day) have gone to a photo studio shortly after having received this decoration and had (as we say to-day) his picture taken.

At that time a successful portrait picture was a complicated matter: photograph plates had to be prepared, the necessary lighting was difficult and tedious work, the subject of the photo had to spend several hours waiting in the studio. Despite this, ‘our’ observer went along to the studio, in full uniform, with the medal attached to his breast - the Iron Cross with its awarding ribbon still on his uniform. On top of his uniform he wore his pilot´s leather jacket, showing his flying commitment. And he attached the goggles artistically to his pilot´s cap, he wanted to display that he was a combat pilot.

He is carrying a dagger as a side weapon, which as an officer he has crowned with an IOD portepee. He is not carrying a bayonet, the usual weapon of a regular soldier, or the sword of an Infantry officer – no, he is wearing this so rare and unmistakable dagger with his uniform. Pride flows from him, we see that as a civilian pilot he voluntarily offered his services as pilot and observer for his fatherland.

Prussian observer with early Aviator dagger

Iron Cross 1st class

So now after about 100 years he stands looking at us. He proves more than any clothing regulation or from what any dusty archive file can ever tell us, that pilots carried daggers.

Iron Cross 1st class. hh


Impressum - Mail

The Early Prussian Aviators and their Daggers - By Vic Diehl and H.Hampe